Courage Connection raises awareness for domestic violence

Photo by EvyJo Compton | Sara Whalen (left) and Osajuli Cravens (right) with Courage Connection await students’ questions about domestic violence at an information table set up in the Student Union on Oct. 24.

Photo by EvyJo Compton | Sara Whalen (left) and Osajuli Cravens (right) with Courage Connection await students’ questions about domestic violence at an information table set up in the Student Union on Oct. 24.

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

Courage Connection was in the Student Union on Oct. 24 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. answering questions, providing resources, and discussing domestic violence-related topics with Parkland-goers.

Courage Connection is an organization that raises awareness for domestic violence. This organization also helps victims and families in many other ways including counseling, court advocacy, and shelter.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” said Osajuli Cravens, who assisted Sara Whalen at the Domestic Violence Awareness table. “It is a national campaign to raise awareness for domestic violence. Courage Connection, an organization built to help those affected by domestic violence, is here to raise awareness in accordance with this month’s theme.”

There are many services provided by Courage Connection to help the survivors and their families overcome the lasting effects of domestic violence. Every service that it provides is 100 percent free to the victims.

“Courage Connection does more than just raise awareness,” said Sara Whalen, a Courage Connection counselor. “We offer counseling for the victims as well as the family. We also offer shelter. This includes a 45-day emergency stay, and even a one year transitional period.”

“We also offer court advocacy,” Whalen said. “If a victim wants to get an order of protection, or needs help with a court case, we will be there for the victims to help them through the court process.”

There is also a store for the public, as well as the victims, to shop at.

“Courage Connection has a store for the public, victims and families,” Cravens said. “What is amazing about our store is that we offer vouchers for the victims to use. This means that they can use these vouchers to get clothes for themselves. They get to pick out what they want instead of having clothes handed to them. This is something that not a lot of organizations do. It is located at the Lincoln Square Mall here in Urbana.”

Along with the services provided, Courage Connection hosts many events bringing awareness to the public, and to help survivors and their families. Two of the events hosted this year in October are the Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month Candlelight Vigil and the T-shirt Project.

“We have an event called the Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month Candlelight Vigil,” Whalen said. “I am not for sure on how many years this has been happening, but it has been around for a long while. This vigil happens on the last Thursday of October every year. This year’s is on the 24th from 6–8 p.m. It is for the public as well as the survivors. Survivors will be there to tell their stories, and help raise awareness in the public about domestic violence.”

“We are also doing the T-shirt Project,” Cravens said. “Survivors and their families came up with the idea. Basically these T-shirts have mini stories from survivors on the back. These can be found hanging in the X-wing here at Parkland, but they can also be seen hanging in the Lincoln Square Mall until the 31st of October.”

Courage Connection offers support groups, one for survivors and one for friends and family. The Domestic Violence Survivors support group is for those who need support as they get out of abusive situations, and move out into the world on their own. The friends and family support group is there to teach the family and friends of victims about how to help them through the process.

There are two offices located in Champaign County for domestic violence victims to go to for assistance.

“There is an office in Rantoul at the Rantoul Community Center on Wabash,” Whalen said. “This office offers court advocacy as well as counseling. The Champaign office is located on Church Street, and offers every service that I have mentioned; advocacy, shelter, and counseling.”

For more information, those interested cam call the organization’s 24-hour hotline at 217-384-4390 or 877-384-4390, or visit their website at courageconnection.org.